tv [untitled] May 2, 2012 7:31am-8:01am EDT
been kicked this as more countries threaten a boycott over alleged ill treatment of jailed xperia yulia timoshenko. as i promised now time for cross talk. and if you. want to. follow in welcome to cross dot com peter in pursuit of happiness as the time finally come when we should value qualitative measurements of wellbeing over indices such as g.d.p. and other government statistics can and should be more focused on what is known as
a national happiness index or does money still make the world go round. and you can. play. to cross-talk the india index of happiness i'm joined by mark and edmonton he's an economist and author of the economics of happiness building genuine wealthy is also an adjunct professor at the university of alberta in london we have summer he is a researcher and data expert at the new economics foundation center for wellbeing and also in london we have christopher snowdon he's a research fellow at the institute of economic affairs all right gentlemen this is cross-eyed that means you can jump in anytime you want mark do you believe in an index of happiness because we all know what g.d.p. is we can all follow the stock markets and we know what financial institutions are doing if they're going up or down we know about mortgages we know just about everything you can imagine about the economy except for maybe if people are happy.
i think we should believe we already have the gallup well-being index the united states so we already are setting precedent i think we need a new accounting system not simply another index but an accounting system that actually measures well being ok christopher what do you think about that can you do it can you i can measure g.d.p. but kind of how could how do you measure happiness all you can do really is people whop either fill generally on the scale of zero to ten and people generally say in reasonably wealthy western societies that there are seven or eight and this is been the case for for many years so although i think it's quite interesting to do these surveys from a policy point of view they have very little relevance and the very little use ok so when we go we have two points of view here what do you thing where you fall in on that. well for years economists have been talked about and have dreamed about having a way of measuring utility being able to measure the success of an economy they have tended to use sort of measures i mean we fall back on things like g.d.p.
because that same is easy to measure we can we have on our balance sheet which we can count things and in the beginning of the nineteenth century in. the twentieth century in the nineteenth centuries where they didn't believe that we could measure anything else now we've actually started to see that we can do some measures of people how people feel at first it might seem like a strange thing to do might seem a bit sort of can we trust people but actually the data that we've been getting over the last fifty years and particularly over the last sort of ten years we start getting more and more actually tells you something meaningful it does seem to tell you a story that you would expect it correlates with the things which we know to make us happy people who are people who are in good relationships are happier people who are in abject poverty a less happy people who have lots of friends are happier people who do who do lots of activities are lots of lives are happier such as volunteering and other things so it creates a meaningful story which suggests that the data isn't just people saying well it does tell you that something is in it does tell you differences between countries i'll give you one example in the netherlands for example the latest survey two
percent of people rated themselves for having a very low level of earth of life satisfaction it's one way of putting it where as in togo in sub-saharan africa eighty one percent of people tell you that they are very unhappy this is a big difference and it's something that we can take a mark of and go back to and i was looking at some of the surveys of the different reports about wellbeing and happiness and it seems to me and i don't want to be too contrarian right here but the poor you are the happy you are because that's what it looks like. well not necessarily i mean once one has achieved material sufficiency particular say in bhutan there's a level of contentment that's achieved and it seems it seems paradoxical that the lower the g.d.p. per capita in some cases the higher the degree of happiness again this is seemingly paradoxical but you know the basis of good life as a result and aquinas is a sufficiency of material needs and secondly virtue is action so i believe there is an interesting challenge can we achieve
a degree of wellbeing and happiness relative to certain level of g.d.p. and i've shown that actually i think you can optimize happiness and g.d.p. around fifteen thousand dollars per capita so the challenges we face as a congress can we actually create conditions which maximize optimize happiness and g.d.p. so we can have our cake and eat it too in a sense ok interesting christopher what do you think about that and what is the role of the state in all of this i mean some of mention a number of things the number of friends you have or what kind of relationship you have i mean that's something the state really well i certainly hope doesn't have anything to do with not now in the future i mean how do you put how do you make some kind of algorithm for that because i couldn't even imagine that. well first of all it's not true to say that poorer countries are in any way happier than the rich countries within countries rich people are invariably happier than poor people and the rich societies around the world are generally happier than poor ones you will
get some countries such as boots on and some of the some the indonesian countries some of the poorer countries are you might expect not to be quite so happy are surprisingly happy and in the various reasons for that one major variable for example is religion. a buddhist country a belief and having a belief in god has been shown in many studies to increase your happiness but i really don't see your second question if it having friends makes you happy which clearly does it having religion makes you happy which is clearly the what is the policy relevance of this town the come the government introduce some sort of theocracy can they somehow force you to our friends to spend time with you clearly not and this is a problem with the happiness studies is all the all the facts is that improve happiness. the government can't do anything about them in the case of for example people tend to be happier in sunny weather or that tens of be happy at that married
government can't affect that or won't do anything about them because the government has bigger priorities so for example it might be that we would be happy if we had a huge road building exercise in britain to get people out of the misery of being stuck in traffic that's not going to do it there are any number of priorities such as you know climate change the environment equalities diversity legislation that will block out any kind of moves that much you might make people happy ok sam i thirdly ok go ahead keep going going keep. thirdly there are the things that the government already doing so we know that people who are very ill or unhappy we know that people who are unemployed are unhappy but we've known this for many many years like everything else in the happiness economics it's obvious stuff and the government has long been pursuing an agenda of creating jobs and of improving the health service and life expectancy is going to be in britain by ten years in the last fifty years and again it seems to have no effect on happiness per se but does
that mean we should abandon i would say not ok summer what do you think about that because when i think of government i tend to feel one happy go ahead. and i can think of two counter-intuitive examples or examples that have changed the way we think about things one is mental health so mental health until recently has always been considered slightly marginal in the health in the health budget it's always been given less money than various sort of different aspects of physical health but in fact if you look at the sort of the impact of different diseases on people's well being the mental health has a much bigger impact than many other illnesses so one of the things you can take and one of the things that the u.k. government has done is start to take more seriously meant investing in mental health treatment you know giving a higher priority than it did before another example is commuting and chris mentioned getting stuck in traffic and that's true actually one of that one study which you looked at which asked people to rate health how they felt particular moments of blue pairings often you're in you have to say how or how you feel found the people at least happy not when they're at work but actually when they're
commuting when they're on their way to work. now one of the things that one of the lessons that we can draw from this and there's other studies which show that people who commute have a longer commute have a lower level of satisfaction on average controlling for all other things like you know sort of income and those sort of things so one lesson that we can learn from that is that it is that is that people people sometimes perhaps mistakenly think that if i get this job which will pay a higher higher salary and i travel further or if i buy a house further out of town which are you know which will be a bigger house but i'll have to commute further to get to work people often think i'll bring more happiness when in fact it doesn't so that's ocean individual thing perhaps or something you're going to leave me to tell you exactly what i would get out mark if i go back to you in edmonton i mean i mean this is just how you each individual defines it i mean you can have two people in exactly the same circumstances and one could be happy and one could be unhappy and i like this idea of an industry because all of these other industries are for the state and for financial institutions and for people to make money for everybody of the ninety
nine percent is forgotten in most industries i want to believe in this but it seems to me that even if you have one or two people in the same circumstances you could have very different outcomes. let me just suggest i'm also an accountant so ok interest is in helping governments be wiser managers what i call a well being balance sheet right now we are operating the economies without a balance sheet we use an income statement called the g.d.p. but really there's no kind of accounting for the assets the human the social and natural capital that actually underpin wellbeing so that's what i'm arguing for and working with governments particularly local governments and showing how the chief financial officer can start to look at investment in wellbeing assets we know that we know the detractors to well being we know the things that create better conditions for all being so let us invest in the asset classes that actually give the best opportunity for wellbeing and the fair distribution of wellbeing across
the community the idea of you know the issue of subjective happiness and my perception of happiness which changes day to day. you know i'm not i'm not totally convinced that's particular relevance to policymakers and it's interesting to maybe have the conversation cross your cross offensive my my neighbor gave me a t. shirt that happiness is overrated you know. so this this idea of subjective. objective happiness is a moving target but let me say there's a difference between i think happiness and well being and that's what the conversation in new york was about so the word wealth in the old english means the conditions of well being so what i'm arguing for is a genuine wealth accounting system so that the wealth in the well being conditions are connected somehow with what we value about why we love or kimi whether you're living in edmonton or london or moscow and that should be the basis of our accounting system and our reporting back to citizens about how we're doing in terms
of the investment of taxes except for in those wealth comes down that you know gentlemen we're going to go to a break and after that short break we'll continue our discussion on valuing wellbeing. they are. to a substantial degree and one problem or another socialism has spread the shadow of human regimentation over most of the nations of europe and the shadow is an approaching a whole different. in the early twenty first century military bases the network of military bases all around the former misleading empire that
the united states is trying to do that's astonishing most americans have no idea there are more than a quarter of a million more than two hundred fifty thousand u.s. troops stationed on these bases all around. we don't have foreign bases in america we don't have any british base we don't have any korean base we don't have any french bases or you know we just all american bases in our bases are fine there are the noises our noise and doesn't bother us at all because they're all bases but for older people it's almost like a cancer here for the speech. since the end of world war two the spaces i've been. working here to provide a safe and secure environment for everybody. the questions any of thing else that you get everything you needed.
and. you. mind you we're talking about how to value happiness. ok chris friend i go back to you in london and we've talked we've talked about individuals and we've talked about governments here but you know when we talk about happiness and consumption is i mean for most of all of our life all of our lives
consumption has been the key factor here and consumption and capitalism have almost everything together i mean is this something the capitalist ruling class was interested in they just want people to buy stuff ok they're not particularly happy if you're if you're worried about if you're happy about it later or not ok i mean if we look at the debt crisis of the last decade they didn't worry about our well being they just wanted us to keep borrowing so i mean my my my point is what is the role of capitalism in the economy in all of this. well people pursue the happiness . regardless of where the economic growth or the presumed wealth people primarily and instinctively pursue happiness and they can do that in one of two ways they can or both ways they can vote they can vote for the politician who they think will make them most happy and they can go out and buy things and go and buy things pursuing wealth trying to get a better job increasing the salary is not some narrow obscure objective that we've been focusing on too much in society it's
a incredibly broad it's the broadest possible aim that you can have because money is just a token with which you can do anything you want to go on by fine food or go on holiday i'll stop working or retire early you'll need money to do it so it's a very broad and sensible objective to pursue well for yourself because it shouldn't be your only objective and if it is your objective you'll be very unhappy and i'm not going to argue that sometimes as a market failure there is buyer's remorse people sometimes buy things and then later find out that it didn't bring them as much pleasure as they thought it would but there's also government failure and most people don't get the government they vote for this is just a simple fact britain at moment we have a government that nobody voted for so government failure is more serious and has more knock on effects on everybody then somebody going out and buying something that they don't really want and end up selling on the second hand market. and i find it all that insofar as consumerism is a problem that more government is the answer because that would just be gone rather be more government failure ok some if i don't it's very sad to say i had some again
i'm going go ahead jump in i think it's very sad to say that the but the only way for people to achieve their happiness is all is either by voting for the right people or by consuming things i mean there's many ways that you can there are many things you cannot buy in fact you cannot buy love i mean it's a bit of a cheesy think they but it's true you kind of i love you kind of by meaning you cannot by a sense of self-worth people try and do this and and they think they can buy the things in it because lots of adverts tell them that they can buy these things and if. and let's tell them if they wear certain clothes or buy a particular car or whatever the name or like to get love or self-worth but actually as we know this sort of short term feeling that they get this little buzz they get when they do but i think it's quite short lost it. lasting and what people the way that people actually can achieve those things that they want meaning the kind of good relationships etc is actually true doing things and one of the things that one of the things one of the problems with the focus on on on g.d.p. and focus on and in on earning as much as possible is it takes away time from doing
those other things directly so we spend our time working so that we can get all these other things that we desire when actually we can just get them directly by actually doing something ok mark if i'm going to use it up so i'm going to refer first christopher go first go ahead well i do agree but as a political economist i was looking at it from measurable outcomes there's a politics and there's economics of course people pursue love and friendship and all these things of the free and there at the end of the day probably the most important thing but money does provide freedom and it does provide a certain degree of happiness you will need to put food on the table at some point and how you divide your time up afterwards is entirely up to you but you do have the freedom to go out and get a part time job your work life balance is entirely a matter for you and it's clearly going to be different for a twenty three year old city trader than it is for a fifty year old mother of four but that's for the individually side and not the government's ok mark if i go to the only that's the problem ok let me go to mark in edmonton i mean i kind of want to go on that side of christopher here i mean people
do accumulate wealth so they can do with they want to do ok that's why people do it maybe there's certainly people now i've met him i was in investment banking money for money sake but i don't tend to think that they are the majority i think most people they want to accumulate some kind of wealth and security so they can do what they want all the things that we've talked about on this program. i agree i think having a certain stock of financial capital so that you can pursue happiness and relationships and and meaningful work i think i try to live in my own life let me let me raise the bar a little bit and say that one of the proposals i made in new york which was never discussed was the connection of well being to monetary policy in other words instead of money being dead as a currently as we have an international debt crisis we connect the creation of money to these well being accounts that's a radical idea. but it's not within within the realm of possibilities we can
attach a creation money to anything we want whether it's debt or seashells and my promise and tally sticks in the u.k. experience so my proposal is that we rethink the entire monetary policy structure of the world we look at the creation of money in parallel with well being conditions so we're actually investing in the real assets so we're going to state the possibility for a good life for everybody ok mark can you give us an any one example of what you mean by that because that's really deep go ahead. one example for example i've just said that the nations run without a balance sheet and most most coca-cola couldn't run without a balance sheet and i'm saying that if the federal reserve or the bank of england or the bank of canada had some type of asset accounts of you know the infrastructure the bridges the hospitals the health of our forests and wetlands ok perhaps some proxies for the degree of trust and relational capital in society we could actually intentionally attach the creation of money. you know the production
of bonds or credit in the private banking sector would also be involved here i think this is a really exciting new frontier and i think it's possible i don't think this is dreaming in color i think in our history abraham lincoln basically said as much before he died that the government can create sufficiency of liquidity to want to facilitate the well being of the people of the united states so i think it is incumbent on us as part of this conversation to think about the role of money and how we can reinvent the creation of money ok christopher what do you think about that because a lot of people would say in light of what we just heard from mark is that you know it's still the market is the best mechanism to decide on the distribution of investment into an economy would you still do that in light of the conversation about about well being and happiness yes absolutely yes. prices and bodies have to be decided by the market i would be very wary but the market
hasn't done very well but you christopher the market hasn't done very well recently and for many for actually quite a few years for quite a few people. there's no there's no reason to think this isn't some sort of top down government control would do any better and we need to we seem to move on from general wellbeing science which is fairly hazy to blaming the whole of capitalism on the events of recent years which is really just an issue with one section of the banking system. ok you know me and mark you want to jump in there you obviously have the impression you disagree go ahead mark well let me say as a new and genuine capitalist i think we're actually we're we're actually leaving a lot of profit on the table there's many assets invisible asset classes like goodwill and trust a relational couple that are the hallmark of the new companies the new economy and i think that capital markets can play
a role accounts need to first of all be able to count for these assets as a legitimate and realize the real value increase the relational capital we have in society so i think markets and the capital capitalism large. isn't in line for a completely new retrofit and i think not to throw it out in fact to marry this well being. peace and aspirations to in fact a new kind of capitalism that i think is more enlightened ok some what do you think about that a new form of capitalism that takes an interest in separation wellness and happiness i mean that's that's sounds nice. well i think the key currency and one that we haven't talked about so far apart from well being and and your usual everyday dollars and pounds is our environmental resources and this is one thing this is one reason why it does make sense you could perhaps if you were living one hundred two hundred years ago i might have said oh you know government doesn't have a role it's not in wellbeing it's not you know it's not it's not necessary for
government to get it to interfere and to be interfering but at the moment we have a situation where our environmental resources are getting more and more constrained there are nine almost billion people on the planet and by twenty fifty the planet isn't getting any bigger the amount of resources we're having is in fact getting less and we do need to start thinking a little bit more seriously about whether we have enough resources to achieve the kind of quality of life that some people at least have been enjoying in the in the beginning of this century and the last century and the evidence just that we don't have enough and that's one of the reasons why we do have to start thinking about the well being dated a bit more seriously because we have to actually start thinking well there's a lot of people here who are consuming a lot of resource consuming a lot of resources so for example in the last the last ecological footprint analysis americans consume let's say four planet's worth of everyone in the world consume less people in america than we need for planets to sustain to sustain that level of consumption which we don't have that and yet they only achieve in terms of well being in terms of life satisfaction life expectancy the lower life expectancy
of action than a country like costa rica which consumes one quarter of the resources so that gives you brings you know the dimension of efficiency so if there are some things that some countries are doing which is inefficient in terms of converting environmental resources into wellbeing that's something those countries need to be looking at christopher so let me let me pose it just way in light of what summer just said so britain americans should consume a large large ok let's cut it in half let's get out seventy five percent of it or they could be happier people. i would very much doubt it and i doubt the people perceive happiness in the people he expects specs to i have about a lifestyle than their parents did and we've been expecting that for several centuries thanks to consume a couple is making that possible and what we're seeing today in this discussion summarizes what's wrong with the the well being agenda it just means anybody's pet projects can be tied in with this very very hazy loose bunch of evidence that doesn't really tell you anything apart from the obvious and rather than going through the revealed preferences of what people actually want in terms of their
voting patterns and their consumption patterns we just bring in any old ideas which people would not vote for nor purchase and the new economic foundation for example wants us to have a steady state economy the want the economy effectively to be to be flops or in a state of recession on a recession i think is very unlikely that such an economy would make people happy in france i think it would make people extremely miserable all right gentlemen you know what is the economy economics is called the clients of doom ok thanks to my guests today and edmonton in london thanks to our viewers for watching us here are the phoenix family member ross about. it.
a taliban a bombing that killed seven in kabul and retaliation to barack obama's surprise visit which saw him commit americans in afghanistan on the for at least. nine killed by unknown attackers during a protest against egypt's military rulers while neighboring israel puts itself. israel is on the defensive as troops on its northern and southern border all the details in just a few moments. plus the e.u. reaches for the red carpet as countries move to a boy called foothold. in ukraine all of this over the handling of a former prime minister. called wired news live from moscow.